By Roneshia Thomas
From the July/August 2023 Issue
Louisiana is continuing to support an array of industries statewide through its LED FastStart Program, which was created in 2008. For more than a decade, this state workforce development program has provided customized employee recruitment, screening, and training development for eligible new or expanding companies—at no cost. The program has contributed to the 9,035 new direct and indirect jobs that came to the state in 2022.
“Economic growth requires us to fix our gaze forward, not back. But the view from 2022 is clear: Louisiana’s economic foundation is strong, and the future is bright and sustainable,” Governor John Bel Edwards said.
Taking advantage of this growing workforce, oil and gas industries have expanded into the state. Louisiana has seen a major economic boost in this industry that is employing thousands and attracting billions of dollars in private investment.
Meanwhile the Bayou State has invested in finding and using renewable energy sources and has attracted investments from fuel companies such as Delta Biofuel, who announced a $100 million investment for a renewable fuel production facility. Louisiana boasts 50,000 miles of pipeline and has over 10,000 new jobs relating to energy transition projects.
“Louisiana has emerged as a leader in renewable energy through continued investment and innovation,” said Gov. Edwards. “As one of the nation’s top producers of sugarcane, producing more than 2 million tons of raw sugar in 2022, it is only fitting that our state will lead the way in the production and export of this new renewable fuel source. Once again we see how the transition to cleaner energy creates investment, jobs, and a diverse range of opportunities across multiple economic sectors and regions of our state.”
Due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana has a thriving agribusiness sector. Companies looking to expand or relocate to the state will benefit from the warm climate, which can extend the growing season. The waters of Louisiana account for one-third of the nation’s seafood supply.
The prime location allows Louisiana to offer a myriad of options for inbound and outbound logistics, such as six interstate highways, six Class 1 railroads, six deepwater ports, and seven primary airports. This intermodal transportation infrastructure helps ship value-added products around the globe.
Louisiana’s Multifaceted Approach To Energy
The energy business is complex, but Louisiana’s strategy for the sector can be summed up in four words: All of the above.
Backed by the guidance of Gov. Edwards’ Climate Action Plan, the first-of-its-kind in the Gulf South, and the state’s location, geography, and infrastructure advantages, the strategy is proving to be a winning one.
Since 2020, Louisiana Economic Development has attracted over 20 energy transition projects worth nearly $40 billion in new investments to the state. These projects significantly support Louisiana’s economy, creating over 20,000 new jobs.
Projects cover a diverse range of investments, including hydrogen, offshore wind, carbon capture, EV battery material processing, and bioenergy. Meanwhile, the state continues to support vital oil and gas interests, including its critical role in the global LNG supply chain.
While newer power generation technologies advance toward commercial scale, natural gas remains the leading source for global hydrogen production, which is set to quadruple by 2030. Louisiana is not only well prepared for that surge, but it is also putting the pieces in place to decarbonize the production process, employing both carbon capture technology and renewable energy sources for production.
One such program exemplifies the state’s ambitions. H2theFuture is a multifaceted, ground-breaking plan to create an offshore, wind-powered hydrogen energy industry cluster in south Louisiana. The funding comes from a $50 million U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Challenge grant and $24.5 million in matching state money.
The use of offshore wind power to produce hydrogen comes as substantial investment, research, and innovation are already well underway in that sector. The state is a natural fit, and its skilled energy and offshore workforce add another unique advantage.
LM Wind is a leading global blade manufacturer whose facility in New Orleans East is the only wind engineering technology center in the country. And, Gulf Wind Technology bills itself as the leading turbine rotor technology specialist in the country. The company is based at the former Avondale Shipyard, a railroad-connected property that spans 254 acres along the New Orleans Mississippi River waterfront.
The federal government also recently selected the first two areas for offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico, and a 174,000-acre area south of Lake Charles was selected as one of the two sites.
The state’s higher education institutions support these developments. The University of New Orleans, in partnership with the UNO Research & Technology Foundation, launched the Louisiana Wind Energy Hub at UNO. Located at The Beach at UNO, the university’s research and technology park, the hub will offer offshore wind energy coursework to engineering students.
With an influx of investment and a skilled workforce, Louisiana is moving toward what could be one of the state’s largest economic boosts. And companies are taking notice. As Cleco President and CEO Bill Fontenot said, “In Louisiana, we have the natural resources, the ingenuity, the geology, the people, and the infrastructure to transform the power industry as we know it.”
Visit Energy.OpportunityLouisiana.gov for more information.